At last weeks’ PEACHES (aka, Tandem Club of Georgia) ride our friends Linda & Eric handed off a pair of wheels and a new Velocity Dyad rim from our friend and guest stoker Lisa’s triplet that had a bent rear rim. They knew the rear rim was dinged which is why it came with a new rim, but they also sent along the front wheel to have it “looked-over.”
I believe they had the rear wheel looked at by “someone” at the ride event where the rim was dinged who diagnosed the need for a replacement. It’s not all that hard to diagnose, low spoke tension around an out of true rim condition is the tell-tale indicator. Putting the wheel in a truing stand will also reveal the flat spot in the rim that’s harder to see just spinning the wheel in a frame. Of course, on a tandem, if you’ve dinged one rim you’ve probably dinged both of them; more on that a bit later.
The rear rim definitely had a flat spot from an impact with a road hazard but the rest of the wheel – hub spokes and nipples — were all in good shape. Therefore, the typical repair is a rim transplant where you tape a new, identical rim to the old rim and one-by-one re-lace the spoke network from the damaged rim to the new rim. Frankly, it’s actually easier and takes less time to lace up a new wheel from scratch than it does to do a transplant since you have unthread every spoke and then rethread the spoke into the new rim. But, it’s one of those mindless tasks that’s quite therapeutic and satisfying in that you get the satisfaction of having rebuilt a wheel while salvaging all of the other wheel parts. What could be better? And, it’s something that almost anyone with moderate mechanical skills can do with a truing stand and a tensionometer.
Photos Above: Just temporarily attach the new rim to the old rim (Left) using electrical tape with the spoke holes aligned, loosen the spoke network and then one-by-one move the spokes from the old rim to the new rim in the corresponding hole (Right).
Integrated wheelsets have made this something of a lost art in that the fancy spokes, hubs and rims folks pay $1000 and up for as a wheelset aren’t typically rebuildable by consumers or shops… mostly because they don’t want to sell the individual parts and because they really do require a lot of practice to rebuild correctly when they require very high tension.
Therein lies the beauty of “old school” wheelsets like the ones Linda and Eric handed off to me. All I needed was a new rim and in about 2 hours the wheel “lives again” with a new rim grafted onto the old spokes and hub.
I spread out the rebuild over a few days where on one night after work I did the spoke transfer, on a second night I did a little spoke tensioning and trueing and then on a third day I did the final tensioning and truing.
With the rear wheel rebuilt and ready to go, I turned my attention to the front wheel. As mentioned earlier, if you encounter a road hazard that can dent a rim on a tandem or triplet, chances are both front & rear wheels will be at risk. Sure enough, the front rim was damaged and in need of replacement: it had a flat spot and a deformed sidewall. I’m somewhat surprised that whoever looked at the rear rim and diagnosed the bent rear rim didn’t think to look at the front rim. Moreover, the depression in the sidewall at the point of impact should have made the front brake pulse badly right after hitting the road hazard.
So, there’s a another rim on the way and we’ll get the front rim squared away a few days after the rim is drop shipped here at the house.